October 3, 2013
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with VACT, for recreation-al programs.But neighbors of oneof the locations that werebeing considered gave thegroup and parks depart-ment a resounding “no” lastweek, prompting VACT topull its plans for that site.The group said they willlook elsewhere as the citybegins its budget process.Residents of the Meis-ter Addition to WestridgeEstates subdivision voicedtheir concerns at a neigh-borhood meeting on theproposed site near MeisterDrive last Tuesday. Thetake-home message wasthat they don’t want a com-munity building in whatthey dubbed a neighbor-hood park.About 40 residentsshowed up near the futurepark, and a dozen or sowere vocal in their opposi-tion to the VACT proposaland cited traffic and a largebuilding in the park as theirmain concerns.Some considered thepark a “consolation prize”of sorts for allowing Epicto realign Northern LightsRoad and eat up future resi-dential development withits expanded campus. Oth-ers thought having addi-tional traffic coming tothe park for rehearsals andperformances would posea safety risk to families inthe subdivision. There werealso concerns about thehaving a large building inthe park.Still, VACT needs to finda bigger space somewhere,said member Dick Vock,who had been heading upthe building plans for thegroup.“The needs are immedi-ate but not urgent,” Vock told the Verona Press. “Weneed to expand for the chil-dren’s theater.”Each year, about 30 to 40kids are turned away fromthe children’s theater pro-gram, he said.“It’s kind of traumatic tohave them audition and turnthem away,” Vock said.“A lot of them never comeback.”The group needs morespace – as much as 9,000square feet – for rehears-als, performances and stor-age, Vock said. He said thegroup would need to waitand see what sort of agree-ment it can make with thecity before getting intodetails about what a build-ing might look like. Itsspace needs will determinethe amount of funding itneeds, too.“Until we can close thedeal on (the current) build-ing, we don’t know the sizeof the new building),” Vock said.Parks director DaveWalker said the city has afew other sites in mind –including a space just acrossBruce Street in Fireman’sPark – but he added that nodecision has been made onwhere to look next.Walker said the citycould probably get a sitepicked out and ready in thenext 4-6 months, but he waswaiting to see what sort of plans VACT brought to thecity.“The ball is kind of intheir court,” Walker said,adding that VACT’s spaceneeds might determinewhere the building couldgo. “They’ve go to fig-ure out what they want,but we’re committed toworking with them.”The city meanwhile,would have to developa new parks plan thatincludes the VACT’sdesires and the needs of therest of the community. Thepublic could review thatplan at the Parks Commis-sion level, and the buildingwould go through the PlanCommission and CommonCouncil, Walker said.VACT has housed itsprops, equipment, costumesand other items at 405Bruce St. for the past nineyears. The land was leasedto the group by the cityand is adjacent to the city’sparks and streets buildingon Bruce Street.The city’s park’s depart-ment could use the currentspace and the new spacecould be shared with thecity’s recreation depart-ment for their dance class-es, Vock said.Walker said the cityis interested in the cur-rent space used by VACTbecause it’s essentiallya heated workspace withbathrooms and offices.“We’re not tapped onspace yet, but somedaythat’s going to happen,”Walker said. “It has somepotential.”Because VACT is look-ing to collaborate with thecity, Vock said the groupwould wait and see whatcomes from the budget dis-cussions for the city andwhat sort of fundraising thegroup would be able to dofor a new building. Vock said the group raised mostof the money from mem-bers last time it needed tobuild.“There are a lot of steps togo,” Vock said. “We need todo some homework.”
Children’s troupe needs more space
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County announces VASDmental health initiative
Unifed Newspaper Group
Under a proposed newinitiative, Dane County willgive $90,000 to the VeronaArea School District nextyear to assist with handlingstudents’ mental health sit-uations.Dane County Execu-tive Joe Parisi, along withVASD superintendent DeanGorrell and other repre-sentatives from the Veronaarea, announced the policyat a press conference Mon-day at Verona Area HighSchool.“This need exists acrossour county, across our stateand across our nation,”Gorrell said of funding towork with students whoface mental health issues.The program will pro-vide a master’s level pro-fessional and a bachelor’slevel case manager to bothVASD and the Sun PrairieSchool District.The two will form a Chil-dren’s Mental Health Stabi-lization Team that will offermultiple services, includingassistance in de-escalatingcrisis mental health situa-tions, training school staff and law enforcement onappropriate interventiontechniques and supportingfamilies as needed to ensurecontinuity at home and atschool, among others.The program would total$180,000 from the 2014-15budget, and Parisi called ithis “number one” priority,as far as new budget items.He announced his proposedbudget Tuesday.“Governing is about pri-orities,” he said Mondayin Verona. “These are verywell-spent dollars.”The county’s Depart-ment of Human Serviceswill also look to generateadditional revenues for theprogram through the Med-icaid Crisis Stabilizationfor Medicaid-eligble chil-dren. The exact amount isunknown, but DHS “con-servatively” estimates anadditional $16,000.According to a recentsurvey from the DaneCounty Education Task Force, a majority of thecounty’s superintendentscited mental health servic-es as the “most significantunmet need of children andfamilies in their district,”according to a news releasefrom Parisi’s office.Parisi said he first learnedof the issue school districtsfaced this summer when hemet with Joining Forces forFamilies, a county programwith offices in many com-munities, including Verona,to learn about problems likethis one.The key to the program’ssuccess, Parisi said, will be“constant communication”between the school districtand the county to evaluatehow things are going.He hopes it improves thesituation for law enforce-ment officials and those inthe schools on a daily basis.“It’s important that lawenforcement has the properresources to refer that childto,” Parisi said. “Right now,sometimes law enforcementmay get a referral and theyhave to show up and … theresources might not be therereadily available for them.”If the program works asplanned, Parisi said it willsave money long-term byhelping the district inter-vene with potential issuesearly, therefore preventingthe costs that can be associ-ated with a major incidentdown the road.County Sup. Erika Hotch-kiss, who serves the Veronaarea and has three chil-dren of her own in VASDschools, said the initiativeshould help all students,regardless of their mentalhealth.“It creates an environ-ment more conducive forall students, teachers andstaff,” she said.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announces a new mental health initiative Monday, along with (fromleft) VASD superintendent Dean Gorrell, Sup. Erika Hotchkiss and Verona police chief Bernie Coughlin.
City of Verona
Restaurant, new buildings on agenda
Verona Press editor
Even though Epic’sCampus 4 presentationlikely will dominate Mon-day’s Plan Commissionmeeting, it will featureseveral other items of interest, including a largerestaurant on Paoli Street.Another could be com-ing soon, as a plan for a5,700-square-foot res-taurant on East VeronaAvenue was submitted andthen withdrawn Tuesday.The commission alreadyhas seen initial plans forthe Paoli Street restaurant,which is attached to anapartment complex alongthe bike trail. Monday’sdiscussion would be onthe crucial second stageof a three-stage approvalprocess, called the generaldevelopment plan. It wouldbe a recommendation tothe Common Council.The commission couldgive final approval tothe AgSource build-ing Monday, as well as a30,000-square-foot “spec”building that would be thefirst construction in Lib-erty Business Park anda storage tank for PureSweet Honey in the city’soriginal industrial park. Italso will consider a recom-mendation for more than200 housing units in Prai-rie Oaks.“The interest in develop-ing in Verona right now isextremely high,” city plan-ning director Adam Sayrepointed out in an email tothe
.No names or ownershave been associated witheither restaurant, thoughcity planning directorAdam Sayre suggesteddevelopers might announcethem for the Paoli Streetrestaurant Monday to helpcommissioners better visu-alize the type of establish-ment that’s planned.It is slightly smaller thanin previous plans but stillquite large at 4,660 squarefeet. It would cater to visi-tors along the MilitaryRidge State Trail and theinhabitants of the adjoining24-unit apartment complex.The locally built project,going under the bicycle-themed name VeloCity, gotsome positive feedback anda few points of criticismfrom the commission whenit first presented its plans, inJuly, and has returned witha bit more parking and fewother changes.Representatives toldthe commission in Julythe clientele for the apart-ments would include activeempty-nesters and youngprofessionals and probablystart construction in thespring.The commission meetsat 6:30 p.m. Monday, andit is televised on VHAT-98and later uploaded to thecity’s YouTube channel.